Breaking Language Barriers

Summer 2010

For this Summer, I had the privilege to go on a 2 week missions trip to Thailand.  This would be my first time going, because Caleb and I chose to instead go to The Navajo Reservation in Arizona one more time.  Matt and Stu went the year prior, so they told us all of their stories and expectations.  It was a fun team and a fun year.


Check out our smolders..

Part of the trip experience involved dealing with the Thai language.  Sure, we were given a crash course of phrases to use, but we didn’t know too much outside of “hello”, “thank you” and “bathroom?”.  Thankfully, a fair amount of Thai people we interacted with knew more English than we did Thai.  But still, I found it amazing how well we worked around it.

Motioning our hands as if using a keyboard and mouse, the college kids knew we were talking about computer games, and more specifically, DotA.  Drawing a TV on the chalkboard and motioning a screwdriver towards it, Greg was able to convey that he fixes TV for a living.  With silly sound effects, Nor was able to explain to Lillian that we needed to daisy chain some power strips together for a pseudo-extension cord.  And one of my favorites, some Thai people didn’t know where Los Angeles was until we simply mentioned the name Kobe Bryant.

There came an instance where we had some down time with the Campus Crusade students.  We had just finished up dinner and we used a little bit of our free time to mingle.  I found myself sitting on a couch with Sonny as some students were gathered there.  Still a little shy and reserved at the time, I didn’t have much to say.  Not too long after all our known Thai and their broken English were exhausted, I noticed the homework they were working on.  I think as a joke and as a shot in the dark, one of the students pointed at a problem she was stuck on, indicating she needed help.

“Ah, Calculus and Physics! So Easy!” I thought to myself.

Because I’m a nerd, I actually worked through the problem, to the extent of deriving parts of an equation to give better understanding.  Every now and then I stopped and pointed at my scribblings and asked “cow jai mai?” (Thai for “do you understand”).  “Cow jai”, (“I understand”) she would respond.  Next thing I know, I look up and Sonny is gone.


I had to leave shortly after walking them through a couple problems, for we had a team meeting to get to.  I remember reflecting and realizing that I just imparted knowledge, without saying much Thai at all.  I broke a language barrier!  Certainly a moment to remember in life.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s